The NIH awarded John Tavis, PhD, professor of molecular microbiology and immunology at Saint Louis University, a $2.2 million grant to design and facilitate a cure for hepatitis B virus infection, according to a press release.
The grant will allow Tavis and colleagues, including Ryan Murelli, PhD, of the City University of New York and Marvin Meyers, PhD, director of medicinal chemistry at SLU’s Center for World Health and Medicine, to take Tavis’ previous 25-year research and apply it to drug development for HBV, according to the release. In previous research, Tavis and colleagues identified a place in the virus that is important to “hit” and found 35 inhibitors that could be applied to that specific area of the virus.
“The inhibitors we found are the warhead of the drug, but this is only one portion of a drug. The next part is the delivery,” Tavis said in the release. “We must design a molecule for minimal toxicity, that can be absorbed by the body and that can last long enough for therapeutic benefit. Then, we’ve got to package it so people can take it in a pill. Ideally, we’d like to avoid injectables, which are difficult for people to take.